Margaret Thatcher refused to bail out the struggling firm behind the DeLorean car in the 1980s, a new book revealed.
The DeLorean Story tells how then-PM Thatcher refused to save the struggling car firm after being told about possible illegal activity at the car company’s Belfast HQ.
Thatcher turned her back on the ailing company and refused to grant a multi-million pound bail-out that would have saved 1,500 jobs.
The DeLorean Story, by former senior manager Nick Sutton, tells how Thatcher was informed that £11.3 million ($17.65million) was missing from the company books, which was presumed to have been pilfered by company director John DeLorean.
The stainless-steel DeLorean DMC-12 is perhaps the most instantly recognisable car ever, because of its gullwing doors and its use in cult film trilogy Back to the Future.
However, its high price and poor performance meant fewer than 9000 cars were sold, leading to the complete collapse of the DeLorean company in late 1982.
Thatcher’s Tory cabinet rejected proposals for a bailout of the ailing company, which had been initially funded in part by private equity firm GDP, who were looking whether part of their investment had been stolen.
Nick Sutton writes: “Possibly the real reason for the proposal’s rejection is that Margaret Thatcher knew of the GDP embezzlement but was not at liberty to share the secrets with her cabinet colleagues.
“By then she would have been informed that $17.65 million was missing from the DeLorean books.”
The brainchild of American car mogul John DeLorean, the company arrived in Belfast at the height of the Troubles in 1978 in a blaze of publicity, bringing 1500 much-needed jobs for the region which was embroiled in the struggles of sectarian violence.
But DeLorean’s dream turned into a huge nightmare as his company folded amid rumours of embezzlement, and the doors at the 72-acre site in West Belfast closed in late 1982 for the last time.
He was even arrested and charged as part of a massive international drug smuggling ring – eventually to be found not guilty on a technicality because of FBI entrapment.
The iconic car has arguably never been as popular as it is today.
In 2007, a company in Humble, Texas, bought all the spare parts that had been left in storage, and set about building new DeLoreans, and this year they plan to launch an eco-friendly electric version of the two-seater sports car.
Due to overwhelming demand from tens of thousands of fans on their ‘design-a-set’ page, toymakers Lego are set to release a set of models based on the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films.
Designer Masashi Togami said: “It is the most iconic car in the history of the world, and I want to bring the joy of owning a DeLorean to the masses.
“Also, Back to the Future is such a classic film, together, the pair make an inseparable pair.”
The DeLorean Story by Nick Sutton, published by Haynes, is priced £17.99, and available in stores and direct at www.haynes.co.uk